The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 recall is now in effect, and Samsung has asked Note 7 customers who purchased their Note 7 phones until now to stop using their phones and to proceed to exchange them for a new handset which has been controlled for battery safety.
The Galaxy Note 7 (sold before Sep 15 2016 for the U.S) is the only model affected by this. Things may vary from country to country, so make sure that you double-check information relevant to your location.
Follow the complete timeline of the Galaxy Note 7 recall.
Exchange program overview
Why: Some Galaxy Note 7 are exploding or burning
About 92 reported incidents (out of 2.5M Galaxy Note 7 built before the recall) had led Samsung to investigate a battery issue that was caused by a manufacturing issue. As a result, there’s a risk that the battery could overheat, especially during charging, and burn or explode, creating a fire hazard. (More on this below)
Samsung recommends exchanging Note 7 handsets *now*
In the official U.S exchange program page, Samsung says: “Because your safety is our utmost concern, we ask you to power down your Galaxy Note7 and exchange it now. We strongly encourage you to take advantage of the U.S. Note7 Exchange Program detailed above.”
It’s better to be safe than sorry, so while the odds may not seem so bad, Samsung doesn’t want to take any risk, and neither should you. Just stop using the phone. If you want to backup your current data/apps for a later restore, you can use the Samsung Smart Switch app (PC/Android/Mac) if you’ll be restoring on a Samsung phone.
U.S. Galaxy Note 7 Replacement / Relaunch
Current/Affected Note 7 handsets can be exchanged for another model which does not have a potential battery issue. Samsung says that it will issue a $25 gift card or carrier bill credit upon exchange. Carriers may propose non-Samsung phones or even a refund, but here are the exchange options from Samsung:
- New Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 Edge, which are not affected by the battery issues
- Available immediately (if in stock)
- New Galaxy Note 7 confirmed to be “safe”
- To be available shortly as production resumes after the manufacturing process correction.
- The CPSC and Samsung have officially announced the program on Sept 15
- Official CPSC Note 7 recall
- The new “safe” Note 7 should be available on Sept 21 in the U.S
- This date will vary for each region/country
- The final terms of the exchange will be announced upon CPSC approval
To find out where/how to exchange the phone based on your (U.S) location, you can go to the store where you bought the phone, contact your re-seller or call 1-800-SAMSUNG.
Note 7 users who purchased their handsets from a carrier can contact that carrier. Here are the common ones:
- AT&T support | 1-800-331-0500
- Sprint | 1-888-211-4727
- T-Mobile | 1-877-746-0909
- Full refund for phone and accessories is possible
- Note 7 customers can keep the Gear Fit or free Netflix subscription
- Will notify when new Note 7 units arrive
- US Cellular | 1-888-944-9400
- Verizon | 1-800-922-0204
All the information that U.S Note 7 users need about the exchange is at samsung.com/note7exchange/. In a Q&A from Samsung Australia, it says that you don’t need to return all the accessories in the box – that’s also true for any free microSD Card you may have received. Check with the carrier or with Samsung.
Update 9/23: Samsung has announced that 50% of Galaxy Note 7 handsets sold in the US have been exchanged through the official program. 90% of the phones returned have been exchanged for a new Galaxy Note 7 handset.
Update 9/20: Samsung says that 500,000 (brand new) replacement handsets have been shipped to U.S carriers and retail stores. On affected phones, a software update will remind users to exchange their handset every time they charge the phone. The same update will also have a green icon that shows when a phone is safe and not affected by the battery issue.
Galaxy Note 7 FAA Recommendations
Don’t use/charge it. Several airlines and other air authorities have taken steps to avoid potential issues related to the Note 7 battery defect. Fires caused by batteries are well known in the Airline industry, and so far, three cargo flights have crashed due to battery-induced fires, so this is very serious — even beyond the scope of this recall. As batteries multiply in planes, the risk simply increases.
The U.S Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) strongly suggests users NOT to turn the Galaxy Note 7 ON or charge it during the flight. Phones should also NOT be placed in checked baggage. By the way, many countries already ban any kinds of batteries in the suitcase, not even for small USB flashlights, let alone battery packs. More FAA information about checked baggage safety.
“In light of recent incidents and concerns raised by Samsung about its Galaxy Note 7 devices, the Federal Aviation Administration strongly advises passengers not to turn on or charge these devices on board aircraft and not to stow them in any checked baggage.” (FAA statement)
The FAA toned got even stronger later with:
“If the device is recalled by the manufacturer, airline crew and passengers will not be able to bring recalled batteries or electronics that contain recalled batteries in the cabin of an aircraft, or in carry-on and checked baggage.”
But because the CPSC and Samsung have not “officially” declared a recall, an eventual FAA ban has not gone into action. It could happen any day, and that’s one more reason to swap the handset, or take precautionary measures such as using another phone.
Also, the tipping point for an official recall depends on the odds of a device becoming a risk (~35-40 devices out of 2.5M so far), and this is probably under evaluation by the authorities. Consumer reports discussed the recall technicalities at length.
At the moment, most airlines may ask that you shut down the Note 7 and avoid charging them (or even “all Samsung phones” according to some reports), but they are not likely to prevent the device from getting on-board.
What is the problem?
After a spat of incidents reports and a Samsung internal investigation, Samsung found out that one of the manufacturing processes of the Galaxy Note 7 battery cells could lead to some batteries having. Battery cells that overheat can catch fire or explode. No other handsets are affected because each model has a custom battery design. Even certain Note 7 battery suppliers are not affected by this.
“Based on our investigation, we learned that there was an issue with the battery cell,” Samsung explained. “An overheating of the battery cell occurred when the anode-to-cathode came into contact which is a very rare manufacturing process error.” (Samsung) – we originally reported on this on Sep 8.
You hear about battery problems from time to time, but when there is a known manufacturing flaw with potentially affected devices can be identified, a recall was to be expected. Note that even if your phone is damaged, it is likely eligible for as return.
It seems that the potentially faulty batteries were manufactured by Samsung SDI, a subsidiary that provides battery components to Samsung Mobile. That’s why The Chinese Galaxy Note 7 was not as affected by the issue, since their batteries came from another supplier .
How do I know if my Note 7 is affected?
Update: U.S users can now check the EMEI number of their Note 7 handsets to know if it is affected. Head to the official Samsung Note 7 Recall page.
You can also use the Samsung+ app which is pre-loaded on the Galaxy Note 7. It will have a screen similar to the one below. From the app, you can also contact a Samsung representative on the phone if you need help.
Once the batch of potentially faulty batteries has been identified, it is possible to trace each affected unit. Samsung has set up some sites that allow users to lookup a database, based on the EMEI number of the phone. Here’s the Note 7 checking tool for Hong Kong for example.
BEWARE: you should NOT use these test sites with phones from the wrong region. I tried with my U.S Note 7, and the site said that my phone “was not affected” — but it really meant “I have no idea because it’s not a phone from Hong Kong”.
Unless proven otherwise by an official source in your country/region, be cautious and exchange the phone.
It has been reported that the Chinese version of the Galaxy Note 7 is not affected by the recall because the batteries were manufactured by another supplier, and were built using a different manufacturing process.
What if I don’t return my Note 7?
Since there’s no practical mechanism to “force” an exchange, it’s a good bet that “some” Note 7s may remain in the wild. To lower the risk of battery ignition, Samsung could reduce the maximum battery charge to 60%. Multiple reports, including one from AP has suggested that this is being considered, although no official announcement or software update has validated this.
You may have heard a rumor about Samsung considering using a “kill switch” on affected Galaxy Note 7 phones after Sep 30. It turns out it’s not going to happen, because that creates all kinds of legal issues because the handset are your property and the manufacturer has limited rights on it.
How do I know when Note 7 handsets are safe?
Since Samsung has corrected the battery flaw and plans to ship new, safe, Galaxy Notes 7 in the coming days, they will mark the box so that customers can easily perform a visual check. At the moment, Samsung Australia is shipping new Galaxy Note 7 boxes with an “S” logo to mark them as “safe”. Customers should also make sure that the handset EMEI number matches the one on the box. It’s probably that other regions will use a similar methodology.
When in doubt, you can always call the Samsung customer service of your area. They should have tools to check this. From the looks of it, Samsung will create websites where users can check if their Note 7 is safe. We provided that link for Hong Kong, and Samsung Australia said that something similar is coming to their region.
To get your EMEI number, go to the phone app and dial *#06#
Does Samsung have enough Note 7 handsets to handle the returns?
Yes. It looks like Samsung will prioritize the delivery of new Note 7 units to existing customers who need and exchange, and should allocate the September 2016 production to that end. Therefore, the company should be able to replace everyone’s handsets before resuming the sales to new customers sometime in October.